Plentitude, Essence, and the Mental

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Your belief that Obama is a Democrat wouldn’t be the belief that it is if it didn't represent Obama, nor would the pain in your ankle be the state that is if, say, it felt like an itch. Accordingly, it is tempting to hold that phenomenal and representational properties are essential to the mental states that have them. But, as several theorists have forcefully argued (including Kripke (1980) and Burge (1979, 1982)) this attractive idea is seemingly in tension with another equally attractive thesis, namely, physicalism about the mental. In this paper, we show that these seemingly incontrovertible essentialist intuitions are in fact compatible with physicalism. By appealing to a plenitudinous ontology of objects, we argue that there are physical things with which mental states can be identified. This is preferable to existing views that give up the essentiality claims or weaken the physicalist thesis.
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Archival date: 2021-10-15
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